Source Pravda.Ru

Will Latvia heed UN expert recommendations?

Moscow is hopeful that the Latvian authorities will take into consideration the opinion of UN human rights experts and stop the discrimination of non-citizens. "We would like to hope that the voice of international experts will be finally heard in Riga," runs the Russian foreign ministry's statement circulated Thursday in the wake of last week's session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

The session considered Latvia's second report on implementing the provisions of the 1966 International Pact on Civil and Political Rights.

The Russian foreign ministry hopes, the Latvian authorities will give up futile attempts to put the discrimination of non-citizens down to historical circumstances in the eyes of the international community, and finally take measures to signal Latvia's readiness to live up to democratic standards.

Authoritative international experts are unlikely to be biased in their concerns over the still great number of non-citizens in Latvia and their slow naturalisation," the foreign ministry's statement runs. Besides, there is "a risk of a continuing situation when such a great part of society will remain deprived of many essential civil rights." In particular, this refers to political rights, the right to work in state institutions, participate in some private sector activities, and enjoy some social privileges, the foreign ministry recalled.

The UN Human Rights Commission's recommendations are similar to those laid down in the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe documents. In particular the recommendations suggest that differences in the rights of citizens and non-citizens be reduced as a way of facilitating non-citizens' participation in the country's public life. Latvia is also advised to take necessary measures to prevent negative consequences of the national language-related policy.

Moscow has suggested that the UN Committee demand the Latvian authorities' report on the realisation of its recommendations regarding the problems of naturalisation, the status of non-citizens, language policy and the law on education within 12 months, ahead of the 2008 routine report.

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